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future retribution, could preserve from the agonies of despair. And do they with sacrilegious hands attempt to violate this last refuge of the miserable, and to rob them of the only comfort that had survived the ravages of misfortune, malice, and tyranny! Did it ever happen that the influence of these tenets disturbed the tranquility of virtuous retirement, deepened the gloom of human distress, or aggravated the horrors of the grave? Ye traitors to human kind, ye murderers of the human soul, how can ye answer for it to your own hearts ? Surely every spark of your generosity is extinguished for ever if this consideration do not awaken in you the keenest remorse."
-Again the following pointed lines in the Minstrel :
O Nature, how in every charm supreme !
Who to the enraptur'd heart, and ear, and eye,
Hence ! ye, who snare and stupify the mind,
(Tho' loth on theme so mean to waste a rhyme,) With vengeance to pursue your sacrilegious crime.
In England the essay on Truth was admired for the perspicuity of its arrangement, the elegance of its language, and the usefulness of its tendency, the clergy in particular, considered it as the most masterly refutation of error that had ever been written ; and the University of Oxford, in 1773, presented him with the honorable distinction of D.C.L. Doctor of Civil Law,
· Dr. Beattie now resumed with new vigor his favorite pursuit of cultivating the Muses, (which had in some measure been prevented by his professional duties) and gave to the world his beautiful poem of the Minstrel, or Progress of Genius. The object of these lines will be best gathered from his own preface.“ The design was," says he, to trace the progress of a poetical genius born in a rude age, from the first dawning of fancy and reason, till that period at which he may be supposed capable of appearing in the world as a Minstrel, that is, an itinerant poet and musician; a character which, according to the notions of our forefathers, was not only respectable, but sacred.” Few poems have been so generally read and so justly admired as the Minstrel, for no person endowed with even common taste or sensibility can peruse it with indifference; and it has enrolled the name of Beattie in the list of our most distinguished Poets. The powers of imagination that he has displayed are astonishing ;--the harmony, simplicity and variety of the composition, will bear to be compared with the greatest masters of English versification. “The measure in which it is written,” observes Dr. Beattie," from its Gothic structure and original, seems to bear some relation to the subject and spirit of the Poem, and admits both simplicity and magnificence of sound and of language beyond any other stanza that I am acquainted with.” It is impossible for any thing to exceed the introductory lines, every point that imagination can conceive, constituting excellence in poetical composition, is there displayed in its fullest extent.
Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
In life's low vale remote hath pin'd alone,
Early in the year 1773 Dr. Beattie, for the second time in his life, proposed visiting London. His fame as the author of the Minstrel, and Essay on Truth, easily procured him letters of introduction to the most celebrated literary characters in the metropolis, among whom were the Earl of Mansfield, Lord Lyttleton, Drs. Johnson, Hurd, Porteus, Mr. Burke, and Mrs. Montague. From each, and particularly the latter, Mr. Beattie received the greatest civility. On the 30th of June, he had the honor of being presented to the King by Lord Dartmouth, and although the levee was particularly crowded, a conversation of some length ensued, the substance of which consisted chiefly in high commendations and compliments, strongly and elegantly expressed by his Majesty on his writings, particularly the Essay on Truth. Such unexpected panegyric could not fail to make a lasting impression on his mind. Dr. Beattie had also the honor of a private audience at Kew, and uniformly expressed his admiration of the general knowledge which both the King and Queen discovered upon every topic which happened to become the subject of conversation.
By the recommendation of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, a gratuity of two hundred pounds per annum from the privy purse was settled upon him, with the compliment that he should lie on the watch, and confute every sceptical and profane opinion that should, after all he had written, dare to start up in the world. On his return to Aberdeen, Dr. Beattie was engaged in preparing for the press An Essay on Memory and Imagination, which had been delivered as lectures to the students under his care. This contains a vast variety of facts, collected with the greatest care, and his reasoning upon these facts, is in general unexceptionable ; few essays of the same bulk contain so much good sense, or a greater fund of practical remark, suited to a variety of situations, but most peculiarly adapted for youth.
From the year 1777, to 1783, nothing remarkable
occurred in the history of Dr. Beattie. His fame was firmly established, and if possible, was much higher in England than in his native country. At this latter period he published his Dissertations on the Theory of Language, one of the longest, most important, and original of his detached essays. If the works of Harris and Monboddo are too abstract for young students, and are rather calculated for those who have acquired some knowledge of the subject, those of Dr. Beattie are simple and comprehensive, illustrated chiefly by those familiar topics which are best accommodated to the capacity of his readers. At the request of his friend Dr. Porteus, then Bishop of Chester, and now Bishop of London, he in the following year published his treatise on the Evidence of Christianity, designed with a view of fixing the attention, without fatiguing the minds of our youth, and to establish their religious principles on their first entrance into the world; in this he has completely succeeded, and perhaps no tract, if we except the Bishop's own on the same subject, ever had a greater share of popularity.
The life of Dr. Beattie had hitherto been one continued series of labor and instruction, and what with cultivating the Belles-Lettres, attending to the improvement of his class in moral Philosophy, composing, preparing for, and correcting the press, but little of his time can have been devoted to the pleasures of society. He was however, always cheerful, and readily unbent his mind in the company of his friends; when on the 19th of November, 1790, the death of his eldest son James Hay Beattie, cast a gloom around him, and notwithstanding his singular piety, seemed to annihilate every faculty of his soul. For several years this interesting young man was at once the companion and the friend of his father ; extraordinary pains had been taken by him in his education, while his progress in classical knowledge, and his proficiency in every other department of Cerature, proved how well it had been bestowed.
Displaying on one hand such virtuous disposition as the fondest father might have been proud to behold; and on the other, a developement of genius and talent, which afforded an early promise of future excellence. So high indeed was the opinion entertained of his natural powers and literary acquirements, that the University of Aberdeen recommended him to his Majesty, as a proper person to be appointed assistant Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic to his father, which was accordingly done, when he was not quite nineteen. Dr. Beattie wrote a very affecting account of his son. No one who has any taste for good writing, simplicity of language, and narrative composed of a selection of the most interest, ing incidents will, I am persuaded, be satisfied with perusing it only once. The Professor never conjpletely recovered his death ; and as if his sorrows had not already been sufficiently acute, he experienced in 1796 an additional weight of calamity, by the death of his younger son Montague Beattie, so named after our celebrated defender of Shakespeare, who had patronised the doctor at a very early period, and whose essay he has taken so many opportunities of commending. These, and other misfortunes, to use the language of the Poet,“ harrowed up the soul” of Dr. Beattie, and his health, never at any time good, was thereby considerably impaired. The last time he ventured out, was in the month of June, 1800. He was then very corpulent, and discovered extreme debility. Premature old age, with all its infirmities, made rapid advances upon him, and for three years before his death he kept his house, and was for a great part of that time confined to his bed; however, his latter days were calm and resigned. He beheld the approach of death with fortitude, composure, and serenity ; like one, who having acted his part well, when he arrived at the brink of life, could look back with pleasure, and forward without apprehension. After he had endured much